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TULSA, Okla. (virginiasports.com) – The Cavaliers got big wins in singles out of Danielle Collins (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Meghan Kelley (Falmouth, Me.) on Saturday, but the match fell the way of the Commodores as No. 14 seed Virginia (19-11) ended its season with a 4-2 loss to No. 6 seed Vanderbilt (23-5) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship.
““I’m so proud of all of these kids,” said Virginia head coach Mark Guilbeau. “First you have to congratulate Vanderbilt for the incredible fight and you can see the experience they have. What we’ve done this year is show the power of seven. We had seven young ladies out there who overcame everything. The synergy is so powerful.”
The quarterfinal appearance marked only the second in program history for the Cavaliers. Virginia advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight before falling to Stanford in 2014. Both times in the Elite Eight, the Cavaliers were knocked out by the defending NCAA champions.
“What (the players) will be able to carry with them after this, some of them within the sport of tennis and some of them outside of tennis, they can be so fulfilled and confident about doing the right things in the right way for the right people, and you’re consistent in that, the power in that is so amazing,” Guilbeau said. “I think we’ve grown so much beyond just the tennis.
“The reality of that is that only one team is going to come out of here with four (wins), but I told our team that I really feel like we are coming out of here with seven. It’s the most powerful seven I’ve ever seen and I’m so proud of them.”
The Commodores got on the board first, grabbing the doubles point with a pair of wins on courts two and three. The duo of Cassie Mercer (Huntington, W.V.) and Stephanie Nauta (Galveston, Texas) fell 6-0 on court two before the pairing of Julia Elbaba (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) and Erica Susi (Vero Beach, Fla.) fell 6-0 on court three.
The No. 18 duo of Collins and Kelley were locked in a tight 3-2 battle on court one when play was suspended.
Second-ranked Collins made quick work of her opponent on court one in singles, dispatching No. 18 Sydney Campbell 6-0, 6-0 to even the match score at a point each.
Vanderbilt then moved in front with wins on courts five and three as Fernanda Contreras defeated Susi 6-1, 6-0 and No. 32 Astra Sharma defeated No. 97 Nauta 6-2, 6-3, respectively. The Commodores held the 3-1 lead with three matches remaining in singles.
Kelley then cut the lead to one point with a win on court four, defeating Courtney Colton 6-4, 6-3, before the Commodores would clinch the match on court two as No. 14 Frances Altick defeated No. 12 Elbaba 6-4, 6-2.
Play will continue for three players when the NCAA Women’s Singles and Doubles Tennis Championships begin on Wednesday, May 25. Matchups and times for the singles and doubles competition will be announced on Tuesday, May 24. Collins is seeded No. 2 in the event, while Elbaba is also seeded in the group of 9-16. Collins will also compete in the doubles competition with Kelley.